My Top Favorite Thrifty Finds

22 Jul


There are treasures to be discovered at thrift stores, estate sales, and even some retailers. There’s also plenty of over-priced junk. I’ve purchased both.

Sometimes I leave empty-handed. Sometimes my hoarding tendencies kick in and I buy something I don’t need or want.

But sometimes, I find just the perfect thing for Around My Home, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite finds with you in this post.

Oil Painting: $60

This large, canvas-wrapped oil painting was buried in the clearance section at HomeGoods. After receiving a discount due to a damaged bracket, I purchased this beauty for $60. It resides in my entryway.


Antique Solid Wood Buffet Table: $50

Also in my entryway – this solid wood buffet table that I purchased at the Salvation Army for $50.

The handles are real brass (not plated), and the entire piece is extremely well-made – no particle board here.


I had fun lining the inside of the drawers with some fabric-wrapped foam board:


Oversized Wingback Chair: $40

This wingback chair was another Salvation Army find. I’d been looking for something similar to this for over a year. Everything I saw was in bad shape or too pricey or both. I walked away with this one for $40.


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How To Prune Roses to Promote More Flowering

15 Jul

I absolutely love roses. These Julia Child roses blooming in my garden are beautiful and smell delicious. I love walking outside when they are in full bloom because the entire yard is perfumed by their delightful scent. IMG_9458

Roses are not hard to care for, but they do have some specific growing requirements.

One of the most beneficial things you can do to promote flowering for your roses is knowing when and how to prune them.

knockout roses

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More Ways to Take The Sting Out of Mosquito Bites This Summer

9 Jul

Since posting the original version of this article, I’ve discovered two must-have tools for the mosquito-fighting arsenal Around My Home.

Mosquito Lantern

The first is the lantern you see on the left. It emits odorless butane to repel mosquitoes in an area of ~200 square feet and has the added feature of an actual light for night-time use.

I purchased several of these lanterns at The Home Depot and they are perfect for outdoor gatherings – one on each table and you have both function and decoration!

The second item is the Alba Lavender Sunscreen on the far right. I’ve tried other brands and scents, but this one really seems to repel mosquitoes effectively for me. I apply the emollient lotion to exposed areas of skin before venturing outside and am usually able to survive dusk without a bite.

The information contained in the original article is all still relevant, so I’ve pasted it in its entirety below.

Hopefully this quick post will give you some new ways to gain relief from mosquitoes this summer!

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New Life For This Old Vanity Bench

1 Jul

I recently completed transforming this antique vanity bench from this:


To this:


I loved this bench the instant I saw it. It cost me $8 at an estate sale. The wood structure of the bench was sound, but the cushion was n-a-s-t-y.


First, I removed the cushion with a screwdriver and thoroughly cleaned the wood structure of the bench with TSP. I decided to re-use the piece of plywood for the base of the cushion, which involved removing about five million staples.

Each morning for about a week, I spent ~30 minutes removing those pesky staples. That was not fun.

The fabric and stuffing from the old cushion was disgusting and smelly, so I didn’t re-use any of it.


Once cleaned and dried, I lightly sanded the piece using a 220 sanding sponge.

Sanding roughs up the top layer of finish and years of oil and dirt to prepare the surface for priming and painting. Continue reading

Budget Decorating: Re-purposing Old Books

15 Jun

During a recent trip to Restoration Hardware to buy paint for our kitchen makeover, I took a quick peek around and instantly fell in love with this look:


A closer inspection revealed a small stack of what appeared to be old paperback books sans covers and bound together in a neat little package with twine.

I was surprised to find a price tag – RH sells these bundles for $15 each! Are you kidding me?!


I loved the look but decided I could probably create it myself for close to free.

So I marched right home and instantly went to work.  Okay, it was really about two weeks later in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and was looking for something to do and remembered the book idea.

I pulled out some books that I was getting ready to donate and reviewed my stack of recent thrift store book purchases, too.

I was completely delighted (insert happy squeal here) to discover some twine in my husband’s workshop. Yay, Honey for having twine!

I was able to quickly put this bundle together in just a few minutes:


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Today I Remember

26 May

Around My Home, we fly the American flag on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and several other times a year. It’s one way we can publicly display gratitude for our troops.

Today I remember the men and women who have fought bravely to defend this country that I love.

Today I remember that I am able to experience many enjoyable moments during this three-day weekend: grilling in the backyard, getting in some much-needed rest, and spending time with my family, because of the selfless sacrifice of others.

Today I remember my uncle, who served in the Air Force, my brother who was in the National Guard and now serves in law enforcement, and my grandfather who was a Detroit firefighter for more than 20 years. (Although I know that the fire department is not part of the military, I always thought of my grandfather as a public defender and patriot.)

Today I remember and say thank you to the men and women of our military who selflessly protect the freedom that I cherish.

And today I say thank you to the families that love them.

May God bless America and those that love her,

Absolutely Fool-Proof Grilled Chicken!

28 Mar

Yummy toppingsSpring in Austin means it’s time to break out the grill!

Although I’ve been known to grill outdoors in 30 degree weather, I tend to do it more often when the temperatures begin to warm up in late March.

I’ve tried this recipe a few times now, just to make sure it’s consistent, and the chicken turns out moist, perfect, and delicious every time!

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2013 In Review: Around My Home

10 Jan

I love numbers. I dream in Excel, and I have a spreadsheet for nearly everything!

So I was tickled to discover that the stats wizards at prepared a 2013 annual report for my blog.

If you love to look at numbers like I do, you may find this brief snapshot of interest.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

(Amazing) Gluten-Free Almond-Pear Bread

8 Oct

Pear bread fresh from ovenOn a recent trip to Costco, I purchased a large box of beautiful pears after my two-year old begged me to buy them.  They ripened quickly at home and guess who decided he doesn’t like pears!

Note to self: Do not make purchasing decisions based on the whim of a two-year old.

After giving away several beautiful pears to the neighborhood kiddos, I still had more than I could eat by myself.

I absolutely hate letting food go to waste, so I decided to try making pear bread.

I’d never had it, and had never made it, but figured it just had to be good, so why not?

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Backyard Oranges – Finally!

3 Oct

Oranges in bowl close up

We harvested our first crop of oranges this year from our Satsuma Mandarin Orange tree.  I purchased the orange tree when I returned from a long-term consulting project in Rome, Italy.

I wanted to plant the tree as a reminder of my work there, since I frequented a large grove of orange trees just a short walk from my office.


After three years of watching and waiting, we finally got oranges!  We shared some with family, neighbors, and friends, and enjoyed the rest.

Oranges in bowl in kitchen

Some of the oranges were sweet and juicy, a few were dry and tasteless, but all of them were so much fun to pick off of the tree!


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